In the world of recruiting, the common saying “win your backyard” refers to the process of consistently securing top prospects from within the state that your school is located.
The Ohio State football program certainly accomplishes just that, dominating the recruiting trail within state lines and typically not allowing the best players to head elsewhere. That focal point has remained consistent through the transition from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day.
Just nearby, fourth-year head coach Chris Holtmann and the OSU basketball program are seemingly beginning to prioritize that same strategy. Holtmann arrived in the summer of 2017 to take over for the retiring Thad Matta.
Only 1 of 10 commits through Holtmann’s first three seasons (Justin Ahrens, Versailles) was from the Buckeye state, although he did bring Northeast Ohio native Kyle Young with him from Butler after the Massillon native flipped in 2017.
That narrative has since completely changed as all three current commits in the 2021 class are from the state of Ohio; Malaki Branham (Akron/St. Vincent-St. Mary), Meechie Johnson (Garfield Heights) and Kalen Etzler (Convoy/Crestview).
The lone commit in the 2022 group, Bowen Hardman, is from Cincinnati. Incoming graduate transfer Seth Towns is returning home to Columbus.
The effort, at the moment, warrants the No. 2 class in the entire country. Whether or not the Buckeyes stay there, it’s still clear that Holtmann is proving he can assemble a roster littered with Ohio talent. It’s a strategy that might be worthwhile, as five of the program’s top six all-time recruits have come from Ohio... with Greg Oden being the only outlier. See below:
* B.J. Mullens (No. 2, Canal Winchester)
* Jared Sullinger (No. 4, Columbus)
* Kosta Koufos (No. 13, Canton)
* William Buford (No. 13, Toledo)
* Daequan Cook (No. 14, Dayton)
In addition, plenty of other in-state products/recruits this century have delivered notable careers for Ohio State; David Lighty (No. 33), Jon Diebler (No. 50), Ja’Sean Tate (No. 58), Jamar Butler (No. 68), Kaleb Wesson (No. 75), Aaron Craft (No. 91) and Dallas Lauderdale (No. 99).
Regardless of what might be presented on a national landscape, winning the state of Ohio has seemingly proved beneficial throughout the years.